30 Sep 2015

Why are Māori, Pasifika dying from heart attacks?

11:15 am on 30 September 2015

New research hopes to reveal why Māori and Pasifika people are more likely to die following heart attacks.

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Photo: 123rf.com

The Heart Foundation has awarded a $90,000 Research Fellowship to University of Auckland Public Health Physician Corina Grey to conduct the research.

Dr Grey said there was already evidence that shows Māori and Pasifika people admitted to hospital with a heart attack are one and a half times more likely to die within 28 days, and twice as likely to die within a year.

She said people living in high deprivation areas were also more likely to die within 28 days.

Dr Grey said her research would use a new nationwide heart patient data registry to examine why the inequalities arise.

"Which means that [from] everyone admitted to hospital with a heart attack, we collect a bunch of information about them that includes risk factors, so smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol," she said.

"And then we can follow them, so it records their treatment, also something that we call pre-hospital delays, how long it takes them to get to hospital, how long it takes them to get certain procedures.

"We can also see if there's any differences in the rate of procedure use in cardiac rehabilitation, and in long term medication use."

Dr Grey said the registry would show where the differences are occurring and where they should be intervening.

"Targeting certain interventions to high deprivation areas, or making culturally appropriate programmes.

"You can do any number of things, but when you develop an intervention the first step is knowing exactly where the inequities are occurring so you can intervene to address those particular differences."

Dr Grey said they already knew smoking rates are higher in certain ethnic groups and in people in more deprived neighbourhoods, but the research would definitively link this on an individual patient basis, and link it to outcomes such as death or future heart attacks.

She said it was also already known that Māori are less likely to be taking long term medications in the three years after a heart attack, which shows that there are differences in treatment and outcomes.

Results from the research are expected in the first half of next year.

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